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White is the new silver among car colors

November 17, 2010

 Car buyers everywhere are waving the white flag.


White/white pearl ended silver’s streak of seven years as the world’s most popular color for automobiles, according to the DuPont 2007 Global Automotive Color Popularity Report, released this month.


Across North America, white is the most popular color, holding 19 percent of the vehicle market. Silver cars make up 18 percent of the market; and black/black effect (a metallic, sparkly finish), 16 percent.


White tied silver last year for most popular in North America. Silver’s seven-year hold on the top spot was the longest consecutive streak in the 55-year history of the survey.


The preference for white indicates consumers are shifting direction when it comes to vehicle color, said DuPont’s Karen Surcina.


"White," she said, "is a trend-shifting color. Things are up for grabs; customers are looking to personalize their vehicle with different shades and specialty finishes."


That personalization trend is seen in the popularity of white pearl (an iridescent hue that reflects many colors) and black effect.


Other styles gaining interest are niche colors and effects, including matte finishes, reported DuPont, a top supplier of automotive coatings.


Red also is growing in popularity, increasing its share 2 percentage points in North America and surpassing gray and blue to become the market’s fourth most popular color. Surcina said red’s popularity shows that North Americans are becoming more accepting of color.


"Bright and bold offers of colors are important," she said. "Automakers are using those to gain attention for newly introduced vehicles, a sort of ‘notice me’ factor."


For example, Chrysler’s Charger Daytona model, which was re-introduced recently, was offered in Top Banana yellow and Go ManGo orange, then in subsequent years Sub-lime green and Plumb Crazy purple.


In vogue in car and at home


But tradition still rules. North American tastes fall in line with those in Japan, where buyers also prefer white cars, but differed from Brazil, China and South Korea, where silver still leads; and Europe, which favors black.


In North America, white is the leading color for trucks and SUVs, and ties with black in the luxury vehicle segment. Silver remained the leader in the intermediate/crossover and the compact/sport segments, but declined in popularity compared to the 2006 report.


The DuPont report findings reflect the growing popularity of white globally—in home furnishings, fashion, consumer products and industrial design, said LeatriceEiseman, executive director of the New Jersey-based Pantone Color Institute, which works with graphic artists, fashion and home designer, among others.


"White," she said "also is considered a fashion statement. The car you drive is a fashion statement."